Genesis 6:2 - "The sons of God"

Status
Not open for further replies.

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
A friend has shared with me his view that "the sons of God" spoken of in Genesis 6:2 are fallen angels.

I have heard this view before, especially among dispensationalists. For a number of reasons I do not accept it.

One resource which my friend sent me was a three-hour lecture by Chuck Missler in which Missler states that, in the Old Testament, "the sons of God" (בְנֵי-הָאֱלֹהִים) always refers to angels, for instance, in Job 1:6. (I haven't yet listened to the whole lecture.)

Is there any merit to this specific claim?
 

Goodcheer68

Puritan Board Sophomore
Angels cant procreate. Ligon Duncan has a lecture on Gen 6 that goes through the 3 main views. Its very helpful. Its on the RTS app under the Systematic Theology section /Covenant Theology lectures and titled the Sons of God.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Angels cant procreate. Ligon Duncan has a lecture on Gen 6 that goes through the 3 main views. Its very helpful. Its on the RTS app under the Systematic Theology section /Covenant Theology lectures and titled the Sons of God.
I agree, the flaws with this interpretation are numerous. Perhaps chiefly, it presents an errant understanding of angelic beings.

However, I am specifically interested in this idea that "the sons of God" always refers to angels. I find that statement difficult to believe, precisely because this passage demands a different meaning. I wonder if someone familiar with Hebrew would be able to provide more detail.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
One resource which my friend sent me was a three-hour lecture by Chuck Missler in which Missler
Others will have to help you with the Hebrew, sufficient to say there are better theologians than Mr Missler (he died in New Zealand quite recently).
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Several thoughts. We've done many threads on this.

a) They are the beney ha-elohim/bene elim. That phrase is used of the divine council. Angels are just messengers.

b) The "naturalist" interpretation has to explain how two normal people produced giants.

c) Don't go to Missler. Go to Bauckham/Wenham/Heiser. Walton rejects the divine council reading in Genesis 6 but rightly affirms it in Job when the exact same language and concepts are used.

d) I've done several bibliographies on the issue.

e) Whether angels can procreate or not is irrelevant. These aren't angels. They are divine council members. In any case, when angels interact with humans they do messy earthy things like eat, kill, touch, wrestle, etc.

f) Many people who say "angels can't do x" haven't done any real research on the technical issues in that conceptual world.

https://tentsofshem.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/naked-bible-bibliography/
https://tentsofshem.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/a-working-ane-bibliography/
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
There is only one other OT book outside the Pentateuch which mentions the “sons of God”: Job, which is likely the oldest written book in the Bible - possibly well before Moses. I find this to be a weak and overstated argument.

Furthermore, I might even question if the phrase, sons of God, used in Job was actually referring to angels... could it be these were actually men appearing together before God in corporate worship and Satan entered in amongst them while having a conversation with God in the spiritual realm?
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
b) The "naturalist" interpretation has to explain how two normal people produced giants.
Was Goliath the offspring of angels? The genes that produced giants then and exceptionally tall/large people even nowadays were inherited from Adam and Eve. Back then, there would be a much larger spectrum of genetic information.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
could it be these were actually men appearing together before God in corporate worship and Satan entered in amongst them while having a conversation with God in the spiritual realm?

No, because it is used in chapter 38 and mentions that the sons of God shouted for joy at creation.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'm not going to get bogged down in this thread. We discussed this issue ad nauseum in the Michael Heiser threads. I'll just provide information. There are difficulties with the plain nephilim reading of the text (e.g., what the text actually says). I'll grant that. I don't think they are insurmountable. So, if you are interested in the technical sources, anyone can peruse the scholarly bibliographies to which I linked to above.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
and Satan entered in amongst them while having a conversation with God in the spiritual realm?

Another reason that won't work, or perhaps a huge difficulty, is the definite article before satan in Hebrew. That is a fairly big weight against its being a proper name.
 

Goodcheer68

Puritan Board Sophomore
Whether angels can procreate or not is irrelevant. These aren't angels. They are divine council members. In any case, when angels interact with humans they do messy earthy things like eat, kill, touch, wrestle, etc.
That is quite different than having the means to pass one's DNA to someone else in a reproductive way. Even if they were divine council beings (Ive listened to Heiser and Im not convinced at all) as you suppose, they wouldn't be able to procreate. They werent created to do so.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
they wouldn't be able to procreate. They werent created to do so.

Those are assertions and just as speculative as what Missler does. Jude thinks they sinned in the same way as the men of Sodom. And it ignores that when they come to earth, they take earth forms.

I commend you for at least listening to Heiser. Most people just brush him off and repeat the typical Roman Catholic angelogy about what angels can and cannot supposedly do.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Others will have to help you with the Hebrew, sufficient to say there are better theologians than Mr Missler (he died in New Zealand quite recently).
Indeed. Missler's theology appears to have been deficient. He made some false claims about the Septuagint translation as well, which are easily disproved by simply checking. (He said that the Septuagint translated בְנֵי-הָאֱלֹהִים as "angels", when in fact we find a very direct translation, οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ.)

Missler also said that Greek is perhaps the most precise language ever to have existed, because every Greek verb has to satisfy five conditions. That kind of comment is just annoyingly inaccurate.

Still, instead of merely asserting that Missler has terrible theology, I'm aiming to interact with the claim that בְנֵי-הָאֱלֹהִים always means "sons of God".

(Missler was in New Zealand? What was he doing in such a far-flung and backward country?)
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Several thoughts. We've done many threads on this.

a) They are the beney ha-elohim/bene elim. That phrase is used of the divine council. Angels are just messengers.

b) The "naturalist" interpretation has to explain how two normal people produced giants.

c) Don't go to Missler. Go to Bauckham/Wenham/Heiser. Walton rejects the divine council reading in Genesis 6 but rightly affirms it in Job when the exact same language and concepts are used.

d) I've done several bibliographies on the issue.

e) Whether angels can procreate or not is irrelevant. These aren't angels. They are divine council members. In any case, when angels interact with humans they do messy earthy things like eat, kill, touch, wrestle, etc.

f) Many people who say "angels can't do x" haven't done any real research on the technical issues in that conceptual world.

https://tentsofshem.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/naked-bible-bibliography/
https://tentsofshem.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/a-working-ane-bibliography/
I'm mainly interested Missler's claim about the term בְנֵי-הָאֱלֹהִים, and whether it is true that it necessarily refers to angelic beings. I'm really not keen on sparking a debate about the whole issue.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
I find this to be a weak and overstated argument.
As do I.
Furthermore, I might even question if the phrase, sons of God, used in Job was actually referring to angels... could it be these were actually men appearing together before God in corporate worship and Satan entered in amongst them while having a conversation with God in the spiritual realm?
I do not think that novel interpretation of Job 1 will stand up to much scrutiny. The most natural reading of Job 1 has two theatres (if you will), one heavenly and one earthly.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
(Missler was in New Zealand? What was he doing in such a far-flung and backward country?)
Justin Trudeau thinks our Prime Minister is wonderful :) I better not get into leftist politics :)

I admit I was surprised Missler shifted to NZ. I think he liked the scenery and lifestyle.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The number of OT instances is simply too small a sample for someone to say, "SoG means angels over here, with little dispute; therefore we should assume it means angels in all cases." Many words and phrases are used in a multiplicity of senses, and the context is the best determiner of any word's meaning.

The setting of Job seems "patriarchal," that is: set in the time of Genesis. Other than that, we've no idea when it was composed. It is telling an ancient moral story, possibly ancient when it was rendered in inspired form ages on. The form is dramatic, i.e. chiefly poetry, the only narrative being found in chs. 1-2 & 42. While I think the Bible intends us to regard Job as an historic figure, the narrative bits exist to contextualize the drama for the audience, and to give them knowledge which is beyond that possessed by the actors within.

Genesis, on the other hand, is predominantly narrative. There's no part of the Bible that is older, and it is whole-cloth with the rest of Moses' composition. The Pentateuch is the oldest part of the Bible, the foundational material. Genesis will undergird interpretation of Job, before Job supplies interpretation for Genesis.

That said, while I find the "hybrid" theory of the Nephilim unsatisfactory, I have to admit it is quite an old interpretation. I am very content myself with the interpretation that understands Gen.6 condemns the earliest mixing of the godly heritage of Seth with the ungodly heritage of Cain (those two heritages being just delineated in chs.4 & 5).
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
The number of OT instances is simply too small a sample for someone to say, "SoG means angels over here, with little dispute; therefore we should assume it means angels in all cases."
Thank you. This was my concern as well. I can't think of any other place in the OT, outside of Genesis 6 and Job 1, that uses the same expression.
Many words and phrases are used in a multiplicity of senses, and the context is the best determiner of any word's meaning.
I agree entirely.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
If the "sons of God" were not human, that is, descended from Adam, their children would not have inherited Adam's nature, seems to me. But Paul says that God made of ONE BLOOD all the nations of the earth. What sort of blood would need to be admixed for non-human beings to procreate with daughters of men? We all of us are Adam's flesh and Adam's bone--even Eve, who was taken from him and had his blood in common.
 

Delahunt

Puritan Board Freshman
If the "sons of God" were not human, that is, descended from Adam, their children would not have inherited Adam's nature, seems to me. But Paul says that God made of ONE BLOOD all the nations of the earth. What sort of blood would need to be admixed for non-human beings to procreate with daughters of men? We all of us are Adam's flesh and Adam's bone--even Eve, who was taken from him and had his blood in common.

This is a great question. Seems to be an anthropological issue that does not have a satisfactory answer. I think Heiser might say that offspring of Nephilim are sterile, like a mule or something. Seems to be a bit far fetched, considering that giants could have offspring (2 Samuel 21:15-22). My elder's friend would say that the procreation occurred more than once, I think to accommodate post-Flood appearances. Seems to be fairly speculative at that point.

If there is a specific Heiser book that addresses these questions for me to do more research, I would certainly check it out. Thanks!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top